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    • January 8, 2019 2:04 PM IST
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      promise of more to come for the two

      TORONTO -- Rudy Gay launched a long lob to a soaring DeMar DeRozan, who finished with huge one-handed dunk early in the third quarter Wednesday. Wholesale Nike Free Uk . The Toronto Raptors dropped a 101-89 pre-season decision to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the highlight-reel connection between the two athletic Raptors was perhaps a promise of more to come for the two whove now had the benefit of some time playing together. "Its going good, I know where his sweet spots are, and vice versa," said DeRozan, who topped Toronto (1-1) with 17 points. "Were just trying to put it together, especially when we need to get a bucket, and be aggressive, and get other teams in the penalty. Thats one thing were trying to do." Gay finished with 11 points. "Were trying to get in the rhythm of the offence, being aggressive, trying to create for others, trying to get that down pat," DeRozan said. New Raptor Tyler Hansbrough had nine points and seven rebounds, while Jonas Valanciunas had nine points and five boards and Kyle Lowry had eight points to go with four assists. Kevin Love led the Timberwolves with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Nikola Pekovic had 12 points and eight boards and J.J. Barea added 12 points. Its a new season under a new general manager in Masai Ujiri, but there is stability in the Raptors starting five that didnt exist at this time last year. All five are returnees compared to a year ago when three of the starting five were newcomers. Added to that, Gay was acquired during the mid-season trade that sent Jose Calderon to Detroit, and had to learn on the job without the benefit of training camp or pre-season. Together, DeRozan and Gay can open up space for each other, and pose a huge threat to opponents defences, who have to decide whos the more important player to focus on. Apart from the alley-oop, Wednesdays game at the Air Canada Centre was typical pre-season, not a pretty performance for either team, featuring mis-timed alley-oops and sloppy turnovers. "Its pre-season," coach Dwane Casey said. "I dont think you can talk to a coach in the NBA now that is where they want to be. We are definitely not where we want to be defensively." Valanciunas said it was a "bad effort on defence tonight." "We still have time and a lot of things to fix and were going to start tomorrow," he said. The Raptors sophomore centre, who was beaten up by the leagues top centres early in his rookie campaign, had some trouble with Minnesotas centre Pekovic on Wednesday. "Hes a really good player, and its not easy to go up against him," Valanciunas said. "Its easier than last year, but I still have to fix a lot of things." The Raptors, who won their pre-season opener 97-89 over the Celtics in Boston on Monday, trailed the Timberwolves 29-22 after a sloppy first quarter. New Raptor Steve Novak drained three three-pointers in the second to help Toronto take a 59-55 lead into the dressing room at halftime. Ronny Turiaf led the TWolves with seven points in a third quarter that saw the visitors regain the lead, up 83-75 with a quarter left. Casey went with mostly newcomers down the stretch as he continues to get a feel for what they have to offer. Toronto next hosts former Raptors No. 1 draft pick Andrea Bargnani and the New York Knicks on Friday. They open the regular season at home against the Celtics on Oct. 30. Notably absent on the night was The Raptor, the teams much-beloved mascot, whos out for the season after rupturing his Achilles tendon. Casey said he called The Raptor after hearing of his injury, which required surgery. "I was disappointed, my daughter cried, she was upset," Casey said. "(The Raptor) is a good man, but hell bounce back, hes in good hands with the physicians. The Raptor will be back." The Raptors will hire a replacement for the man under the costume, whos been with the team since Day 1. Nike Free Cheap Online . -- Those impatient for the Stanley Cup to return to Canada will have just one team to root for in the NHL playoffs -- the Montreal Canadiens. Nike Free Shoes On Sale . 1. Did the Senators trade the wrong goalie? Lets make one thing clear: The Ottawa Senators acquired Ben Bishop from the St. Louis Blues for one reason and one reason alone.MANGARATIBA, Brazil - A hard rain was falling when Gianluigi Buffon paused for a moment during an Italy training session Tuesday. Leaning forward with both hands on his knees, Buffon appeared to be resting or somehow trying to withstand the rain. Or perhaps the 36-year-old goalkeeper and Italy captain was reflecting on this: He is only the third player in history to be part of five World Cup squads, along with Germany great Lothar Matthaus and former Mexico goalkeeper Antonio Carbajal. Buffon first went to the World Cup back in 1998, although he didnt play a second-choice option behind Gianluca Pagliuca. He then took over the starting position from 2002 onward. "A fifth World Cup is a nice milestone but that doesnt mean Im satisfied," Buffon said before departing for Brazil. "Both individually and as a squad were preparing to surprise people." Buffon, of course, doesnt need to prove anything at this point in his career. He was one of the driving forces behind Italys run to the 2006 World Cup title, when he didnt concede a single goal to opponents during normal play over the course of seven matches — letting in only an own goal from Cristian Zaccardo and a penalty from Zinedine Zidane in the final won over France. He helped Parma to the UEFA Cup title way back in 1999 and has since won five Serie A titles with Juventus — including the last three. "As the years go by, Gigi still has the same amount of desire," said midfielder Claudio Marchisio, who plays with Buffon with both Italy and Juventus. "Hes a great professional, a great friend, and a top-level player. Hes a player who is able to give his all in every moment and always offer the right words of encouragement. "There are players here who are at their first big tournament and hes always there offering the right words of advice," Marchisio added Tuesday. Now that Buffon is setting records for longevity, its worth remembering what an early start he had. Born to members of Italys national teams in athletics (his mother) and weightlifting (father), Buffons distant relative Lorenzo Buffon was also Italys goalkeeper in the 1950s. Having played in midfield as a kid, Buffon decided he wanted to be a goalkeeper after seeing Thomas NKono defend Cameroons goal during the 1990 World Cup in Italy — when Buffon was 12 — and years later Buffon named his first son Louis Thomas after NKono. In 1991 when Buffon was just 13, Parma purchased his rights and put him in their youth system. Nike Free Shoes Uk. At 17, Buffon made his Serie A debut with Parma, keeping a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw against AC Milan. At 19, Buffon made a memorable Italy debut on a snowy pitch in Moscow during a playoff with Russia for a spot in the 1998 World Cup. Coming off a frigid bench as an injury replacement for Pagliuca, Buffon first raised eyebrows by wearing shorts in the arctic-like conditions then made a series of impressive saves in a 1-1 draw. Fast forward to 2006, when Buffon was one of the few key players to stay with Juventus when the Turin club was relegated to Serie B due to a match-fixing scandal — meaning that a month after guiding Italy to the World Cup title, he was playing in small second-division stadiums. Then at the 2010 World Cup, Buffon struggled with back pain. He played only a portion of Italys opening match and the Azzurri were promptly eliminated after the first round. But he was back in place to help Italy reach the final of the 2012 European Championship. And last October, Buffon surpassed Fabio Cannavaro with an Italy-record 137th appearance. So how does Buffon keep going? "Motivation is the key," he said in a recent interview with Italian daily La Repubblica. "Reflexes diminish. At my age you dont improve anymore, so its better to reduce training and take better care of injury prevention, nutrition and gym work." Buffon has often recounted how he fell into depression about 10 years ago, then resuscitated himself by turning to literature. He has also been the subject of a couple betting scandals. In 2011, he married Czech model Alena Seredova but Buffon announced last month when Italy gathered to begin training that they had separated. In announcing their split, Buffon thanked Seredova publicly for not making things too difficult for him, and said that he hopes she will bring their two boys to watch him play in Brazil. Whether Seredova and the boys come is yet to be seen. Either way, Buffon has already inscribed his name in the World Cup record books. And who knows, maybe Buffon will continue playing and go back to Russia and the site of his Italy debut for the 2018 World Cup, when hell be 40 — the same age that one of his idols, Dino Zoff, was when he helped Italy to the 1982 World Cup title. "Ill keep playing as long as I dont become a reserve," Buffon said. "Once the day comes that I get benched, thats when Ill hang my boots up." ___ Follow Andrew Dampf at http://twitter.com/asdampfWholesale China Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale Authentic Jerseys Nike NFL Jerseys China Wholesale Nike Basketball Jerseys Hockey Jerseys China Supply Baseball JerseysFootball Jerseys Sale Authentic College Jerseys MLB Jerseys China Stitched Soccer Jerseys Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap Nike Jerseys ' ' '

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